Kiosk Series: Tablets and Self-Service Kiosks

This is a post in a series exploring the use of Android tablets and the iPad as kiosks. The kick-off post can be found here.

Sports retailer Fanzz sells apparel and souvenirs for both local and national teams. It’s easy to do the math and see that although their stores are full of great products, they just can’t stock every item for every sport for every team. Alex, an area manager for Fanzz, says:

“If a customer walks into our store and doesn’t find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to go home, shop online, maybe purchase from a competitor, or not purchase at all.”

How do they solve this problem? Simple. When customers want something that’s not in the store, let them order it online.

Sticking a couple of self-service PCs around the store just isn’t an option. The solution needs to be much more focused and robust than that, and also have a much smaller footprint.

Enter the tablet. The team at Fanzz cleared out a display area that held about 24 t-shirts and replaced it with a simple tool that lets customers order half a million different products. The solution consists of an iPad on a small bit of counter space, housed in an attractive see-through case, with a credit card reader attached. If a prospect doesn’t find what he’s looking for in the store, he can order it right there on the iPad and have it sent to his house. The prospect gets his sports fan apparel, and Fanzz gets a sale.

Until recently, the only self-service solutions available were specialized systems that were expensive to purchase, deploy, and manage. After all the hassle, and expense, the things were just not enjoyable to use.

Although tablets were intended for a mass consumer market, with a few tweaks, they are a game-changer.

It’s easy to see how tablets can be a boon for retail sales. What about other industries? Try restaurants. The original customer self-service device is a menu, printed on paper, which has been around for a couple of centuries now. It’s been a great solution, but it’s time for an update. For restaurants, printing a batch of color menus is expensive, and limits their ability to change the food selection based on market conditions.

Enter the tablet. Users love tablets, and restaurants need flexibility and lower costs. It makes sense to roll out tablets with the restaurant’s latest menu.

So, tablets are great for self-service in retail and restaurants. Any other industries? Try hospitality. Here are the top five uses of service kiosks in hotels:

  1. Loyalty program signup and access.
  2. Airline checkin and boarding pass printing.
  3. Maps, directions, and area information.
  4. Room key encoding and dispensing.
  5. Check-in, check-out and room selection.

Those are some examples from retail, restaurants, and hospitality. In reality, in any business where you need to take care of large numbers of people, tablets can help you do a better job. It’s time to start thinking about how tablets can help your business take care of your customers.

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About the Author: Michael Girdley